R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. E.E.O.C.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: April 22, 2019
  • Case #: 18-107
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 884 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Petitioner runs a family-owned funeral home. Respondent brought claims on behalf of Intervenor, a transgender employee of Petitioner, alleging unlawful discharge based on sex and gender identity in violation of Title VII.  The District Court held transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII; however, denied Petitioner’s motion to dismiss pursuant to the plurality opinion in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), acknowledging Respondent’s ‘sex stereotyping gender-discrimination claim’. Subsequently, the district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Petitioner under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. 2000bb. EEOC appealed. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that under Price Waterhouse, employers engage in unlawful sex stereotyping through sex-specific policies based on employees’ sex instead of gender identity. The court judicially amended the word “sex” to mean “gender identity” and held discrimination based on transgender status violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1).  Finally, the court found that with the change, RFRA was not a defense. Petitioner argues that the Sixth Circuit amendment usurped the legislative role of Congress, who consistently rejects “sex” to mean “gender identity” since reenactment of Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. Law 102–166.  The Supreme Court granted limited review in order to decide whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping under Price Waterhouse.

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